5 ways to improve your daily work routine
If several small improvements are visible each week, it creates a constant sense of success. This sense of success motivates the team, making it easy to create a culture of improvement. Continuous improvement (also known as Kaizen ) is an ongoing process to improve and change services, products and processes in a systematic way with the goal of increasing customer value and/or eliminating waste.
It can sometimes seem that a process is already well laid out and perhaps could not be better. However, that is not the thinking behind the continuous improvement principle. After all, the point is that something can always be better. There is always room for improvement.
Continuous improvement is central to Lean and requires a change in mindset. It requires a complete conversion that will take time with positive results. It also has several benefits: reduce costs, improve quality, increase employee engagement, deliver faster, create a proactive learning culture and more. To enjoy these benefits, it is good to improve the daily work routine.
There are some easy ways to improve the work routine:
1. Stand-up meeting
A stand-up meeting, also called a daily standup, is a tool that supports short-cycle improvement. It is a daily meeting team held around an improvement board.
Daily stand-up meetings are held at the beginning or mid-day to communicate results and issues. So a plan is made for the next 24 hours. This plan often follows an established roadmap, such as through SQDCP. SQDCP stands for Safety, Quality, Delivery, Cost & People.
The goal is to keep these meetings as short and businesslike as possible. During an effective stand-up meeting, a few (not too many) KPIs are discussed. A stand-up meeting is purposeful when only facts are discussed. A stand-up meeting lasts no longer than 15 minutes and is held (as reflected in the name) on a standing basis.
To conduct an effective daily standup, the following are discussed:
- Action list: discuss status of already agreed actions with today’s deadline.
- Performance last interval: scores KPIs / planned activities
- Possible obstacles coming interval: threats to KPIs / planned activities
Furthermore, a stopwatch can be used to stop the stand-up meeting after 15 minutes. This ensures that team members formulate things concisely next time.
2. PDCA Circle
Kaizen events follow a PDCA cycle. The abbreviation PDCA stands for Plan-Do-Check-Act and is also called the Deming or Shewhart circle. The PDCA cycle contributes to structural problem solving. The PDCA circle is powerful tool to improve quality. It also serves as a control tool to monitor the quality of improvements within an organization.
The 4 phases are briefly explained below:
Plan: In this phase, the problem is detected and described. This is an important stage because the right problem must be described. Make a plan for the problem and record what needs to be improved. The steps should also be defined.
Do: Implement the plan on a small scale under controlled conditions. Make sure results are measured properly with appropriate measurement tools.
Check: Examine the results and find out if the process has actually improved.
Act: Implement data-backed improvements. Create standards or update the standards so that everyone can easily follow the new regulations.
The PDCA cycle is used in Japan as the basic model for conducting Kaizens. These are daily improvements. Thus, you can continuously improve your daily work routine.
3. Visual work environment
visual work environment
is meant to do one thing: make everything visible. Visualization is one of the most important features for a Lean environment. Lean also means open communication. Using visual aids (graphs or images) makes the message clear at a glance. By visualizing an environment, problems become faster & more visible. That which is missing, too much, misplaced, etc. stands out better.
With clear illustrations or charts, things become self-explanatory. You can see that not every action requires the supervisor or department manager. This is one is a crucial step in any Kaizen or Lean transformation process.
Some examples to visualize things:
- 5S program.
- Color coding and labeling of tools.
- Standardized furniture, trays and color coding.
- Plasticized work instructions.
- Delineation of cells or departments.
- Markings on the floor for machines, parts and walkways.
- Markers for work-in-progress locations.
- Clear order instructions on work in progress.
- Kanban racks and Kanban cards.
- Tool shadowing boards (SMED).
- Clear communication boards of a visual
A great example of a clear communication board is a digital touchscreen. Some workstations have screens with real-time data showing the most important KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). This makes it easier to prioritize, anticipate and achieve growth together.
4. A motivated team
“If your behavior inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then you are a leader.”
Leaders coach and help employees achieve better results by supporting them, coaching them, protecting them from outside interference and being accessible. A motivated team makes the difference and ensures the successful completion of a project. If the carters lose focus then a project takes longer to complete. And also with less success as predicted.
To create and maintain a motivated team as a project leader, it is good to go to the workplace (go to Gemba) to find out what drives them. The goal of Go to Gemba is to see, hear and understand the process in the workplace. You can more easily identify problems, waste and improvement opportunities and teach employees to recognize these issues themselves.
Therefore, because the project leader sees, hears and understands the problems himself, it is easier to motivate the team. By steering the team in the right direction and using the right words and (visual) means, we realize improvement every day.
5. Monitoring KPIs.
To be 1% better every day, it’s good to know what the results are from the previous period and what improvements need to be made. As mentioned earlier, visual aids provide overview and explain data at a glance.
Monitoring KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) is usually done in a performance dashboard. A dashboard is created for a department, business unit, project and can even be created for a single employee. A dashboard plays a huge role in measuring successes or, on the contrary, identifying improvements.
A key point in creating a dashboard is to include key KPIs. These chosen KPIs should align with the Voice of Customer (VOC). KPIs are thus linked to the customer’s problem. Key KPIs are found out through a set of CTQs (Critical to Quality).
Each Lean Six Sigma project focuses on a limited number of CTQs. To establish the CTQs, a CTQ Flowdown is prepared. For Lean projects, the CTQ is often related to numbers or time (lead time, delivery time, processing time, utilization rate, etc.).
KPIs are key in the continuous improvement process. In fact, they are used to prioritize which improvement project will be implemented first. They also offer a daily dose of motivation to be 1% better today than the day before which improves the daily work routine.
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